LOUDONVILLE — One of the aspects of his game that Siena men’s lacrosse goalie Anthony Tebbano worked on most during the offseason was improving his ability to help the Saints clear the ball down the field.
Even Tebbano didn’t quite imagine that would lead to the scenario that occurred midway through the fourth quarter Saturday during Siena’s season opener against LIU.
With what had once been a seven-goal lead cut down to one, Tebbano made a save on LIU’s Alex Russell to keep Siena in front. Then, rather than dumping the ball off to a teammate to start the clear, Tebbano simply took it himself, sprinting across midfield and getting the ball back to the Siena offense.
“Usually, you don’t want to see your goalie on the other side of the midfield line,” Siena coach Liam Gleason said following the Saints’ 14-12 win at Hickey Field. “But, Anthony handled it well and got the ball to our attack.”
After the play, Tebbano came to the realization that maybe he hadn’t needed to make his solo dash through the midfield.
“We had a couple guys open. I just didn’t see them,” Tebbano said. “We talked after the play. I ran down and made the most of the play.”
No harm, no foul?
“You get put in a situation where you’ve got to run the ball up, it is what it is,” Tebbano said.
Tebbano and the Saints finished Saturday’s game 22 of 26 on clearing attempts. Siena was successful on 16 of 18 clears over the final three quarters and 12 of 13 in the second half.
Couple that with 12 saves — including a few point-blank stops early and a pair of key rejections in the fourth quarter after LIU had made it a one-goal game — and it was a successful return to the starting lineup for Tebbano.
The junior, a Shenendehowa High School graduate, was Siena’s starter as a freshman in 2018 before appearing in just four games a year ago.
“Anthony played great throughout the game,” Gleason said. “Especially in the first quarter, he made a couple 1-on-1 saves.”
Tebbano was proudest that he and the defense buckled down late to silence the 6-0 run that got LIU back into the game.
“Our motto, down on the defense, is ‘be the anchor of the team,’” Tebbano said. “I think we did a really good job of that. It’s not just me who’s calming the team down, it’s the whole defense. All six other guys, they did a good job.”
Playing with a bulky brace fitted over his left knee and having seen just one quarter of scrimmage action during the preseason, Siena senior midfielder Dylan Pantalone knew he wasn’t operating at 100% early on Saturday.
“I was a little shaky in the first half,” said Pantalone, a Niskayuna High School graduate. “Definitely a little nervous with my knee.”
A halftime conversation with Gleason settled things down, and Pantalone said he felt much more confident heading into the second half.
That showed just 26 seconds into the third quarter, went Pantalone received a pass from attackman Jack Kiernan and ripped a shot past LIU goalie Will Mark.
“The first one dropped, and it was nice,” Pantalone said.
Pantalone added a man-up goal later in the third quarter, finishing the day with two goals on four shots while picking up three ground balls.
Pantalone was a first-team All-MAAC selection as a junior in 2019 after putting up 20 goals and 10 assists, but hurt his knee on the first day of preseason practice and was cautious in his preparation for the opener.
“I played one quarter [in the Feb. 1 scrimmage] against Binghamton,” Pantalone said. “I don’t think it was enough, but getting out here and being with my teammates, it was great. It was a really good feeling.”
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Shinder.